Thursday, March 10, 2011

Taffin (1988)

Little change of pace as today I'll be talking about a solid little film from Ireland starring former James Bond Pierce Brosnan.  Pierce plays Mark Taffin, a debt collector who returns to the small village he grew up in to find that a large corporation is trying to set up a chemical plant.  When the corporation begins to use intimidation tactics to silence those opposing them (as they are wont to do in movies), the village hires Taffin to help them out.

Taffin ends up falling in love with, Charlotte, a bartender he picks up after a job played by Allison Doody.  Charlotte's main function to the plot is to act as encouragement for Taffin as he's not on the best of terms with the town due to his profession.  There's quite a bit of bellyaching from both sides as the town doesn't quite fully trust Taffin and Taffin is certain that at some point they'll turn their backs on him.

His fears turn out to be fully validated towards the end and unfortunately, the manner in which it plays out pretty much torpedoes the last act of the movie.  For the first hour and twenty minutes, this is a fairly terrific little gem of a movie with a breezy pace and good performances from all, especially Brosnan who manages to make his character likable in spite of some rather whiny moments here and there.

After a few confrontations, Taffin has apparently won the day and village is singing his praises when suddenly, a fire set by the bad guys burns down a house, killing one of the villagers.  This turns the entire town against Taffin and sends him out after the head of the company who he shoots dead right before the credits.

My main issue with this is simply one of basic storytelling logic.  For the most part, there is little to no evidence that the town will turn on the man which makes him look like a bit of an ass.  The moment it does happen, it's done in such an overblown, stupid manner that it makes the villagers look like complete morons who would sooner believe the bad guy than the man who's been protecting them for the last hour of screen time.

This sort of plot twist is very difficult to pull off.  It requires careful screenwriting and believable execution.  Here though, it's done with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer as the town turns on him in the blink of an eye.  I don't know if this is what happened in the book the movie was based on but I would hope it was done in a more believable manner.  The end result is a late twist that almost kills the movie.

Despite a lapse into Idiot Plot inanities, I do think this movie is worth watching if for no other reason than to see Pierce before he was James Bond.  Brosnan and Doody are good and have a nice chemistry together and it's an agreeable enough way to spend 97 minutes.  Just don't be surprised if after watching it you feel slightly miffed  by the botched ending.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Bloodstone (1988)

Sorry for the long delay but other projects came to the forefront.  I did, however find a gem.  Well, maybe not a gem but at the very least it gave me that great feeling you get when you go into a video store and see a really cool looking movie with great box art and say "This has to be great!".  Of course, as so often happens, the cover ends up being the best thing about the film but still

Bloodstone is a little known obscurity from director Dwight (Halloween 4) Little and producer/writer Nico Mastorakis that is two parts Romancing the Stone and one part Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Brett Stimely and Anna Nicholas (I've never heard of them either) play Sandy and Stephanie, newlyweds in India who get involved in the search for a rare ruby known as the Bloodstone.

They go up against an allegedly sinister, horribly overplayed villain in the form of British ham Christopher Neame.  Neame is the go-to guy when every other actor in the UK is either busy or not interested.  He's never met a scene he couldn't destroy with his horrific overacting, as anybody who has put themselves through Hellbound will tell you.  Seriously, the man might be okay if he was a stage performer but on screen he;'s absolutely terrible.

Also on hand are a shady cab driver (Rajni Kanth) and Charlie Brill as Ramesh, a bumbling police inspector.  Kanth is pretty good in his role but Brill is somewhat more problematic.  A graduate of the Jerry Lewis school of comedy (literally), Brill does a rather low rent Inspector Clouseau routine only with a bit of makeup to make him look like a man from India and a cheesy accent that sounds more like one of the Shmenge Brothers from SCTV than anything else.  Amazingly enough, he manages to wring one or two mild chuckles out of the material.  Then again, I am easily entertained so I might be off base here.

Honestly, the best thing about the movie is that it moves along at a pretty good pace.  Dwight Little has done quite a few decent movies such as Rapid Fire and Marked for Death and he brings a certain level of quality the script can't provide, nor can the relatively weak performances from the leads.  If you're wondering why I haven't mentioned them, well, that's just how unmemorable they are.

I can't really recommend this unless you really enjoy a cheesy adventure movie.  The best I can say is that in terms of film making, it's better than those two Allan Quatermain films Cannon put out around the same time but nowhere near as fun.

Still, for a low budget action film from the late eighties it's a perfectly agreeable time killer.  Just don't expect to be up for a second viewing afterwards.

If nothing else, that damned cover is really cool.

About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.